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It will be Well

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“He set my feet upon a rock, steadying my footsteps and establishing my path.”
Psalm 40:2b (AMP)

2018 came in with a vengeance. On top of seeing snow in unexpected places this year, we have seen a number of tragedies, deaths, illnesses, among other life-altering challenges. It’s almost as if the bottom fell out and many of you find yourselves trying to find sure footing again. Is there a place of certainty that I can find rest? Is there hope for me, my family, and our future?

Even in this moment of transition I speak peace to the weary souls that are at a place of turmoil. I speak rest to your minds from the anxious toil. Cease striving trying to figure it all out and rest in the unfailing love of the Father; for He gives rest to His beloved.

We must learn to accept His sovereignty and receive His grace. There are situations we will never be able to understand. We are to trust that God has it all under control and He is working it all together for our good. He will also reveal His plan as time unfolds.

2 Corinthians 12:9 encourages us to rely on the grace of God; “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul wanted God to remove the problems he faced because they seemed too much for him to bear, but God knowing all too well the purpose of those trials encouraged Him that His power was all He needed.

I challenge you today as you read this to take a step back and ask God to help you see your situation through His eyes. In times like these we need Him to broaden our perspective. As He does take comfort in the rest that He has already provided; be still my friend and know that He is God. There is nothing too hard for our God to handle. When everything around you is shaking, He is a firm foundation. He is the rock of ages. He knows how to steady you and establish your footing on solid ground.

Father, teach me to rest in your unfailing love. I admit I get lost trying to find my way through life’s ups and downs. I don’t always know where to go or what to think. I don’t always know what to do, but you do. May I take comfort in knowing that Your purposes for me will be fulfilled. There is nothing that I will encounter that can separate me from Your love. Thank you, Father. In Jesus’s name Amen.

By Mary Pinckney
Used by Permission

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God Works within Us

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Let these words slowly sink into your understanding: “able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (v. 20 ESV). What an amazing description of God’s ability to work within us. Ephesians 3:20-21

Yet so often our focus is mainly on what we want Him to do around us: If He would change this situation or fix that problem, then my life would be better.

But He invites us to think and ask bigger—He wants to change us!

The Holy Spirit has more than enough power to transform lives from the inside out, but working change within is usually a slow process. Spiritual fruit takes time to grow and mature. That’s why we need patience and faith to believe He is working even when we don’t see the results right away. God is never in a hurry and will never give up on us.

The Lord has a purpose for your life, and He is constantly working to achieve it. Although He has an individualized plan for each one of His children, He also has an overarching goal—to conform every believer to the image of His Son Jesus Christ. In order to accomplish this, He may have to bring us through some struggles and heartaches. It might make no sense to us, but God knows exactly what He’s doing.

What would you like to see the Lord do within you?

As you read the Scriptures, look for qualities that God considers precious, and ask Him to work them out in your life. Then rely on His wonderful promise to do even more than you have asked or imagined.

by Dr. Charles Stanley
from http://www.intouch.org
Used with permission from In Touch Ministries, Inc.

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How to Show Love to a Demanding Person

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“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” 1 Corinthians 13: 7 (NLT, 2nd  edition).

Love can be absolutely exhausting. Don’t let anyone fool you. The kind of love that really makes a difference in this world will zap everything out of you.

Sometimes you just don’t feel like you have any more love to give. Maybe you’re in a people-intensive job, such as teacher, salesman, or waitress, and you come home and think, “I just can’t face another need, another problem, or another heartache.” So you just shut down.

Or you need to show love to a particular person who is demanding, selfish, and never returns your love. And you just think to yourself, “I’m done. No more.”

While that’s perfectly natural and perfectly human, it’s not the standard of love God calls us to in the Bible. The Bible says, “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (1 Corinthians 13:7 NLT, 2nd edition). Love never gives up.

How can you have that kind of persistent love for another person? You get refueled.

When my kids were young, I remember taking the family to a nearby air show. It was so impressive to see how they would hook up a tanker to a jet in flight to refuel. I’ll never forget that.

But, can you imagine someone flying a jet saying, “I don’t need to refuel!” The jet would crash and burn. In a long distance flight, a jet has to refuel.

To give the kind of persistent love that God wants you to give, you have to refuel your love tank. Look around at society, and you’ll see it’s littered with debris from relationships that have crashed and burned because people didn’t refuel their love.

How do you refuel your love tank? You start by letting God love you. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19 NIV). When you’re worn out, tired, and can’t imagine showing love to anyone else, remember that God loved you so much that he sent his Son to die for you.

Now that’s real fuel. That’s what keeps you going when you want to quit.

Talk It Over:
What do you need to do this week so you can refuel and love others well?
– What are the characteristics of God’s love that you can exemplify?
– Who have you lost faith in or given up on? How can you show love to that person today?

By Rick Warren
Used by Permission
Daily Hope:  www.PurposeDriven.com

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Paradise Road – Story of Shining Your Light

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You are the light of the world…let your light shine before menJohn 5:16

Someone told me that we influence at least 250 people during our lifetime. (I was told this number was chosen because this is how many people usually show up at a funeral.) Today, with the Internet connecting us with more people, I believe our influence is much greater.

I recently watched a true story  video called, Paradise Road. It told of a woman who used her influence and training to give a group of women hope, courage, peace, unity and a reason to keep living.

The women were prisoners of war. They came from diverse backgrounds – high society and farmers. They were from different countries. At first they didn’t trust each other, but as life became more difficult for them, they began to work together.

God used one woman in an amazing way. With her music and organizational abilities, she united the women to form an orchestra and patiently taught them how to use their voices to sound like instruments. Soon they were able to create a beautiful concert.

She gave them something beautiful to focus on besides their own misery and their horrific surroundings. Every day women died at the hands of their captors or from disease, but the group was able to keep going because of her courage.

There were, of course, some women who wouldn’t join the choir and watched from afar, but most followed her.

Over half the women in the choir died. One day, when they were having yet another funeral procession, one of the guards asked her, “Where is your choir now?”

Instead of letting his remark discourage her, she picked up two rocks and began banging out a rhythm. Soon others followed her example, using sticks, shoes – whatever they could find. They were an orchestra again and were encouraged. Even those who usually sat and watched joined in the music.

Finally the war was over and they were set free. This woman had given them hope, courage, and even joy by inspiring them to make something beautiful in dire circumstances.

You are like this woman when Jesus Christ controls your life,

You shine like stars…as you hold out the word of life” (Philippians 2:15).

You help women see something beautiful in life, no matter the circumstances. You are the light of the world.

Think for a moment about the people you influence. The ones you meet at your local coffee shop, the grocery store, clothing store and online, as well as your neighbors, coworkers, church and family. God can use you to help introduce people you know to Christ, the One who brings light into our souls and eyes. Why not point them to the gospel in the related article below.

Father of light, we thank You that You place joy, hope, light and a reason to keep living in our hearts. Give us the courage to spread that light to everyone with whom we come into contact. Amen.

By Katherine Kehler
Used by Permission

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Forgiven

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I do not write this lightly, I’ve lived it and learned (slowly at times) that the way we forgive people who have deeply hurt us is nowhere close to the forgiveness with which God forgives us.

As I have repeatedly read the story of Joseph’s reconciliation (Genesis 37-50) with his brothers, I have been moved each time by the deep compassion and mercy he extended to his brothers. He taught us a valuable and beautiful lesson on forgiveness.

We don’t know how long it took him to reach that level of forgiveness after his brothers plotted to murder him, tossed him into a pit, and then sold him into slavery. In my personal opinion, I doubt it was early on because the hurt was so fresh and deep at that time. Maybe it was a work God accomplished in his heart through a slow and gradual process over the many years he was falsely imprisoned.

Maybe it was when he was released from prison and saw the enormous responsibility and position God had placed him in. Maybe his heart was opened then to a deeper understanding of God’s ways, as He learned God’s assignment for him was to save the people from famine.

Whenever it was that the healing work of forgiveness took place in Joseph’s heart, I am thankful that he obediently humbled himself and allowed God to bring this about in him. I have seen many people resist God’s work of forgiveness in their lives, and the result is always bitterness. Sometimes it is a very evident, outwardly visible root of bitterness. Sometimes it is a hidden, pushed down, denied form of bitterness, and yet it still spills forth in the life of the unforgiving person.

The evidence of genuine forgiveness was displayed when Joseph was reunited with his brothers and he didn’t condemn them.  He wept and cried and assured them that what they meant for evil, God meant for good. He took care of them and re-established relationship with them.

When others have deeply hurt and betrayed us, may we find it in our hearts to forgive as God forgives, as God taught Joseph to forgive, and as Stephen forgave those who stoned him (Acts 6 and 7). Stephen’s story is compelling beyond words. With his dying breath, he forgave those who were taking his life.

Following the example of Joseph, Stephen, and Jesus Christ, may we hold no charge against our offenders and betrayers and toss their offense ‘as far as the east is from the west’ (Psalm 103:12). God wants us to give mercy to others as He has been merciful to us. He wants us to forgive as we have been forgiven.

Colossians 3:12b-13 teaches us to put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long suffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

By Kathy Cheek
Used by Permission
From: Devotions from the Heart

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So Many Hurts

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If hurts were hairs—we’d all look like grizzlies!

So many hurts.  When teachers ignore your work, their neglect hurts. When your girlfriend drops you, when your husband abandons you, when the company fires you, it hurts.  Rejection always does.  People bring pain.

Sometimes deliberately.  Sometimes randomly.

So where do you turn?  Hitman.com?  Jim Beam and friends?  Pity Party Catering Service?  Retaliation has its appeal.  But Jesus has a better idea!

Grace is not blind.  It sees the hurt full well.  But Grace chooses to see God’s forgiveness even more.  Hebrews 12:15 asks us to, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

Where grace is lacking, bitterness abounds.  Where grace abounds, forgiveness grows.  Forgiveness may not happen all at once.  But it can happen with you.

by Max Lucado

From: GRACE
Used by permission
To learn more about Max Lucado visit his website at: http://maxlucado.com/about/

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How Do We Pay Attention to God

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Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth.”
Isaiah 50:1-2a

In this passage, the Prophet Isaiah seeks to comfort the people of Israel. So, he begins with a plea: If you want to pursue a good and holy life, then listen to me. Pay attention to the One from whom you were created, and to the wise patriarchs from whom your identity was shaped.

Isaiah’s words are poetic and beautiful, but what does it mean to listen to God? How might we listen to Him today?

Recently I chatted with experts in listening attentively and empathetically to callers who suffer from depression, loneliness, or various life hang-ups. I asked, “What does it mean to listen to God? More than that, how do we listen to God?” The responses came quickly:

1.  Get still, and undistracted.
2. Pray and commune with God’s Spirit.
3. Read the Word and consider its meaning for you.
4. Seek counsel from godly people you trust.
5. Spend time in the grandeur of creation.

As follow-up, I asked another question. “What gets in the way of listening to God these ways?” One person smiled and said, “Just ignore the list above!” Upon further reflection, others offered that hindrances included busyness, computer screen time, worry, and not planning to listen.

Perhaps it is time to pause, get quiet, and listen for God’s still small voice in silence of prayer, His Word, observing His creation, or in an intentional conversation with a respected and godly friend. But, if we do that, will we listen?

Dear God, thank you for your presence. May I take steps today to slow down, become aware of your prompting, meditate on your Word, and listen well to a wise person, so I may hear your voice of comfort and conscience. Amen.

By Dr. Bill Strom
Used by Permission
http://www.thelife.com/dailydevotions

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Seeking God

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Listen to the Word of God and be blessed with the passionate cry of the psalmist in Psalm 63:1.

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you.”

And in Psalm 42:1.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.”

Be blessed to live from that deep cry of seeking God in your innermost being, longing for more of him, digging in to know him more intimately. Your Father desires constant communion of your spirit with his Spirit. Be blessed with directing the thirst of your soul to communion with him. Be blessed with getting out of your head and into your spirit, meeting God personally and profoundly.

Be blessed to know that God is who he said he is, and he can do and will do what he says he can do and will do, and he can presently do it in your life. He is the I Am to do it in you today. He is personal and powerful, and he alone satisfies. Jesus is standing and knocking at your heart’s door, waiting for you to open up to him for satisfying fellowship (Revelations 3:20). Jesus invites you to a table set for two. He wants your love, and he will be satisfied when you fulfill his heart by opening up to him.

Be blessed with knowing your covenant-keeping God of promise as you seek him and keep company with him in Spirit and in truth. Be blessed with more of his Spirit, not more how-to’s to make you feel guilty or more religious. Be blessed to discover him more as his Spirit lives in you to fulfill your deepest cries. Be blessed to encounter him in such dimensions that you feel as if you have never breathed spiritually before.

Be blessed in his name Rewarder of those who earnestly seek him.
(Hebrews 11:6).

by Sylvia Gunter
Used by Permission
From: You Are Blessed In The Names Of God

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God is with me—even in the Dark

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Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.” Isaiah 50:10

In the Bible a new day begins with darkness. In Genesis chapter 1 each new day is introduced with the words, “and there was evening, and there was morning—the first day“. The second day, and so on.

When God wants to take us into a new day of spiritual experience, He often begins with darkness. He leads us into a period of confusion, pain and disappointment. Take Joseph for example. God had told him that he would be ruling one day. Instead, for years he endured the exact opposite. He was rejected by his brothers, sold into slavery and endured a long imprisonment. Yet, all the while God was preparing him for a new day when the promise would become reality.

Are you in a time of darkness? You can’t see the way. You don’t understand what’s happening. It makes no sense to you. Tell God about it and then leave it with Him. He knows the way and He is leading you into a new day.

God has promised us treasures of darkness. “I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by name “ (Isaiah 45:3).

The greatest treasure is to know God in a deeper way: to know that God is real and He meets real needs. It’s in the dark that God’s picture unfolds.

God says, “Trust Me. Don’t try to figure out what is happening. Simply trust Me and thank Me in advance for the good that will come out of it all.”

It will be a surprise how God will break into your life this time.

Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” (Psalm 25:4,5).

by Helen Lescheid
Used by Permission Visit http://www.helenlescheid.com

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Knowing the Shepherd; The Shepherd Knows You

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I am the Good Shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” John 10:14-15 (NKJV)

Knowing His voice means you will hear the voice of clarity and not confusion; you will know the voice of peace and not the voice of anxiety; you will be instructed by the voice of wisdom and not the voice of folly; you will be told the way of holiness and not the way of sin; you will be instructed with the voice of good counsel and not the voice of bad advice; you will know the voice of light and not the voice of darkness; you will know the voice that takes you on a straight path, and not the voice that brings you to a dead end; you will hear the voice of truth and not the voice of deception.

Knowing that He knows you means that He knows you personally and will not confuse you or your needs with another sheep in His flock. His eyes see all the sheep of His fold and yet His eye is personally on you. He knows where you are and will guide you; He knows your fears and will keep you safe; He knows your hunger and He will feed you; He knows your weariness and will give you rest; He knows your valleys and will bring you through; He knows your enemy and will defend you; He knows your dwelling place and will safely bring you home.

By Roy Lessin
Used by Permission

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photo credit: Alan Feebery

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Your Mind is Your Most Spiritually Vulnerable Organ

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“Fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable” Philippians 4:8 (GNT).

The more you think about something, the stronger it takes hold of you, which is why the Bible teaches that we should “run from anything that gives you the evil thoughts . . . but stay close to anything that makes you want to do right” (2 Timothy 2:22a TLB).

Temptation begins by capturing your attention. What gets your attention arouses your emotions. Then your emotions activate your behavior, and you act on what you feel. The more you focus on “I don’t want to do this,” the stronger it draws you in.

Ignoring a temptation is far more effective than fighting it. Once your mind is on something else, the temptation loses its power. So when temptation calls you on the phone, don’t argue with it — just hang up!

Sometimes this means physically leaving a tempting situation. This is one time it is okay to run away. Get up and turn off the television set. Walk away from a group that is gossiping. Leave the theater in the middle of the movie. To avoid being stung, stay away from the bees.

Spiritually, your mind is your most vulnerable organ. To reduce temptation, keep your mind occupied with God’s Word and other good thoughts. You defeat bad thoughts by thinking of something better. This is the principle of replacement. You overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).

Talk It Over: 

  • When you are in the midst of temptation, what “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable” things can you think about instead of the temptation?
  • We manage our minds and monitor our media intake in order to defeat temptation. What changes might that mean for you when it comes to TV, movies, and social media?

By Rick Warren
Used by Permission
Daily Hope online at www.PurposeDriven.com

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Be Transformed

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Proverbs 27:19 says, “As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.”

Have you ever struggled with stubborn sin in your life and become discouraged because you just couldn’t seem to overcome it?  I have.  There was a time when I desperately wanted to change some things the Lord had revealed to me about myself.  It just seemed, however, that the more I thought about them and prayed about them, the worse they became.  Then the Lord revealed to me that I wasn’t changing because I was focusing on the problem, not on Him.

There’s a principal I learned about displacement and replacement. It had to do with self-esteem.  Picture a bucket filled with water.  The water represents the good things about you.  Then, as people chip away at your self-esteem by saying negative things, the negatives are like pebbles.  When you drop a pebble in the bucket, the water, your good qualities, splashes over the edge and out of your bucket.

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

The Bible also says in Ephesians 4:22-23,

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

So the question is, “How does this transformation take place?”  We find the answer in Philippians 4:8,

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

It is the Word of God that renews our mind!  In my bucket, I look at the water as my old self, the sin I want to remove from my life.  The pebbles are God’s Word.  So each time I focus on God’s Word, His pebbles are dropped in my bucket.  It is God’s Word which displaces the sin in my life and replaces it with His righteousness and holiness.

PrayerMy most gracious and holy Father, I come to you today with stubborn sin in my life for which I ask your forgiveness.  Keep me focused on your Word, Lord, that through your power my old self will vanish and your righteousness and holiness will reign in my heart and actions.  Guide me and grant me wisdom so my heart will be transformed to one which reflects you, O Lord. Praise and glory and honor be to you throughout eternity.  Amen.

by Sherry Yarger
Used by Permission

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Comforter to the Downcast

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God, who comforts the downcast.”  2 Corinthians 7:6

Who else comforts like Him? The sweetest promises and whispered words of comfort, coming from us, can fall upon deaf ears to someone who is truly poor, melancholy, and distressed. As much as we may try to comfort them, it may only be a note or two of mournful resignation that you get in reply. You will bring forth no psalms of praise, no hallelujahs, no joyful sonnets. But let God come to His child, let Him lift up their head, and the mourner’s eyes glisten with hope. “’Tis paradise, if thou art here; If thou depart, ‘tis hell.”

You could not have cheered them, but the Lord has done it. “God, who comforts the downcast.”  Even when there is no comfort to be found in the world, there is comfort in God. There is no physician among the creatures, but the Creator is Jehovah-Rophe (“The LORD who Heals“). It is marvelous how one sweet word of God will become whole songs for Christians. One word of God is like a piece of gold, and the Christian is the metal-worker who can hammer that promise out for whole weeks.

So, then, ogYou are like a poor dry well. When a pump is dry, you must pour water down it first to prime it, and then you will get water. So too when you are dry, go to God, ask Him to pour His joy in your heart, and then your joy will be full. Don’t go to earthly friends, for you may find them to be like Job’s ‘comforters’. Instead, go first and foremost to your ‘God, who comforts the downcast’ and you will soon say, ‘When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.” (Psalm 94:19)

Question: Where in your Bible do you most often turn when you’re seeking consolation?

Originally written by Charles Spurgeon.
Updated to modern English by Darren Hewer, 2009
Used by Permission

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Suffering and Sovereignty

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But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.
2 Corinthians 7:6

Owen Shramek lived for only twenty minutes after he was born. His father, Dustin, struggled with anger. During the first months after the baby’s death, Dustin admits he felt very little comfort from God. He prayed, “God, I know You are sovereign.  I know that You are in control.  But the least You could do is draw near to us and give us comfort.”

Well, on the six month anniversary, Dustin was reading through the mail. Letters came from God’s people all over the world.  He came across the Bible verse: “But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.”  God was answering his prayer through fellow Christians!

Dear one, be comforted. We are part of the Body of Christ. And it’s through this Body that He ministers to us. Even in our darkest days.

by Vonette Bright
Used by Permission

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Hope Changes Everything

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Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God Psalm 43:5

A couple of weeks ago, before our recent snowfall, I looked out the window into our backyard. The grass was brown and the trees were bare. The bird feeder was empty and uninviting. (We fill it when the ground is covered with snow.)

It was a depressing scene, and yet I saw hope. In a few months the trees will have buds and the grass will turn green again. The birds will return to their nests and baby birds will learn to fly.

I know there is hope in the dead of winter because spring will come again. Every year. Without fail, the cold days will become warm again.

The weather seasons will change, but sometimes the seasons of life feel long and drawn out.

I can’t imagine what it’s like to go through life without knowing Jesus.

With Jesus, I know I’m not alone and that no matter how long winter seems to last, I know it will not go on forever.
Without winter, there would be no spring.

Without death, there would be no resurrection.

Without the valley, I wouldn’t see the mountain.

Without the hard days, I wouldn’t enjoy the good days.

Without chaos, I wouldn’t appreciate the quiet days.

Without Jesus, there would be no light to break through the darkness.

I don’t know what season of life you’re walking through, but I encourage you to not give up.

The calendar pages turn and the new life of spring will be here before we know it.

God is most certainly at work, whether we can see it or not. Life seasons change, often much slower or quicker than we would like. But in every season there is hope.

Because of Jesus, there is always hope. And hope changes everything.

By Laura Rath
Used by Permission
From https://laurarath.blogspot.ca/

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